Louis Rene Beres

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Illustration on Israel’s nuclear strategy in light of use of nuclear weapons by other actors by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

The first post-World War II employment of nuclear weapons will probably be launched by North Korea or Pakistan. Should circumstances actually turn out this way, the resultant harms would impact not only the aggressor state and its victims, but also selected strategic nuclear policies in certain other states. The most significant example of such an impact would likely be Israel.

Israel’s nuclear strategy remains “deliberately ambiguous.” This “opaque” posture has endured because Jerusalem has never yet had to worry about confronting enemy nuclear forces. This durability would almost certainly need to change, however, if Iran — the July 2015 Vienna pact notwithstanding — were sometime perceived to have already become “nearly-nuclear.”…  Seguir leyendo »

One important aspect of the new nuclear agreement with Iran has been ignored altogether. This is the likely impact of the pact upon Israel’s strategic nuclear posture. Although the Israeli bomb remains plainly nonthreatening, and in the metaphoric “basement,” it is plausible to expect that many countries (both friends and foes) will soon call indignantly for the Jewish state’s denuclearization.

Significantly for Israel, compliance with any such demands could prove intolerable. Even if pertinent enemy states were to remain non-nuclear themselves, these adversaries and also their terrorist proxies would still be in a dramatically improved position to overwhelm Israel.

In the past, a number of Arab states and Iran, themselves still non-nuclear, have demanded Israel join the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.…  Seguir leyendo »

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded strongly to an earlier verbal attack launched by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. To be sure, as Mr. Netanyahu pointed out, Palestinian allegations of an Israeli-inflicted genocide were not only preposterous but also deeply ironic. After all, both the PA and Hamas are unambiguously on record in favor of eradicating Israel altogether, an open expression of criminal intent.

Addressing another irony, Mr. Netanyahu pointed out that “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,” and that there can be absolutely no justification to fighting one while supporting the other.…  Seguir leyendo »

A sea-based nuclear deterrent for Israel

For Israel, an overriding long-term security requirement must be to deter future attacks with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by enemy states, especially Iran. Israel will need to fashion a comprehensive and calibrated strategic doctrine that identifies and correlates all available options (deterrence, pre-emption, active defense, strategic targeting and military use of nuclear weapons) with enumerated national-survival goals.

The challenges of an Israeli nuclear-deterrence posture needs discussion, with special reference to twin requirements of perceived ability and perceived willingness. Before any rational adversary could be deterred by an Israeli nuclear threat, that enemy would first need to believe that Israel had both the capacity to launch a nuclear-weapons response for any WMD aggression, and also the will to take such an action.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon recently offered what seemed a very simple statement on national self-reliance. This assertion concerned Israel’s obligation not to depend upon any American “defense arrangements.” However well-intentioned, it was not meant to diminish the importance of good relations with Washington. Rather, it was intended to underscore the particular dangers of President Obama’s plan for regional peace.

Mr. Ya’alon clearly understands that all Palestinian factions still demand a “one-state solution” for the Middle East, and will never accept Mr. Obama’s thoroughly idealized vision of “two states for two peoples.” He also remembers that this same administration recently spent hundreds of millions of American tax dollars training Fatah “security services” in neighboring Jordan, allegedly to war against Hamas.…  Seguir leyendo »

With increasing desperation, Secretary of State John F. Kerry hopes to secure success for a long-elusive Middle East peace process. During all of his recent negotiations, the secretary has reiterated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unconditional demand that any Palestinian state be “demilitarized.”

While commendable for its faithful commitment to stipulated Israeli requirements, Mr. Kerry’s position on this particular element of settlement remains fanciful at best. This is because Palestinian demilitarization can never happen.

In essence, international law wouldn’t necessarily expect Palestinian compliance with any negotiated agreement limitations concerning armed force. What if the government of a fully sovereign Palestinian state were nonetheless willing to consider itself bound by a pre-state, demilitarization agreement?…  Seguir leyendo »

The Palestinian Authority, already raised by the U.N. General Assembly to the status of a “nonmember observer state,” will seek full sovereignty. Whether or not this final push to statehood will take place in collaboration with Hamas, or on an altogether discrete track, the result will inevitably be injurious to Israel. Significantly, although generally unrecognized, this danger will be enlarged by Iran’s nonstop progress to nuclear arms. This is the case even though Iran and “Palestine” might not choose to collaborate against Israel by any conscious ideological design or dint of policy.

Iranian nuclearization and Palestinian statehood do not represent separate threats to Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

One year ago, on Nov. 29, 2012, the U.N. General Assembly voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the status of a “nonmember observer state.” Although it is more or less widely thought that this organizational elevation was tantamount to a bestowal of formal legal personality, this is not the case. Jurisprudentially, at least, “Palestine” still remains outside the community of separately sovereign states.

This exclusion is evident “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Authoritative criteria of statehood making this point are already long-standing, explicit and readily available. More precisely, under pertinent international law, a state must always possess the following specific qualifications: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government; and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.…  Seguir leyendo »

For assorted reasons, none of which might make any sense in retrospect, neither Israel nor the United States has yet exercised an appropriate pre-emption option in Iran. In essence, such a self-defense option would have been directed against certain pertinent Iranian nuclear assets and infrastructures. At this point, at least for plainly operational reasons, launching pre-emptive strikes of this sort may have become too costly. This is because the expected retaliatory consequences of any Iranian reprisal, although nonnuclear, could now be unacceptable.

Pre-emption in this critical security matter has never really been a legal issue. International law, after all, is not a suicide pact.…  Seguir leyendo »